Speak truth to power

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The phrase speak truth to power has become more and more popular, especially in the United States. We will examine the meaning of the phrase speak truth to power, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Speak truth to power means to confront those who hold important positions, whether in government, business or religious institutions. To speak truth to power means to demand a moral response to a problem, rather than an expedient, easy or selfish response. The phrase speak truth to power carries a connotation of bravery, of risking either the status quo, one’s reputation or livelihood, or the wrath of the person one is confronting. The first use of the phrase is attributed to the American Religious Society of Friends Church, better known as the Quakers. The missive entitled Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence was published in the mid-1950s. The work is addressed generally to the powerful who run nations, espousing the Quaker truth that love endures and overcomes. Related phrases are speaks truth to power, spoke truth to power, speaking truth to power.


It is not often easy to speak truth to power, to approach one who is on a higher station in life, who is in public office or is otherwise perceived to be unapproachable. (The St. Louis Jewish Light)

If there ever was a time that we needed someone with the political courage to speak truth to power in Chicago and Springfield, it is now, and Kennedy is the man to do it. (The Chicago Tribune)

“Our sweaters are all about wearing your politics and using your voice to speak truth to power,” Hruska MacPherson said. (The Los Angeles Times)